Beating down a mountain of a man like Brock Lesnar may seem like a formidable task, but Alistair Overeem did the deed in less than three minutes.
All eyes were glued to the UFC 141 main event on Dec. 30, 2011, as Overeem locked horns with the former World Wrestling Entertainment superstar at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Lesnar was on the rebound following his technical knockout loss to Cain Velasquez and a case of diverticulitis, while his Dutch counterpart was on a seven-fight winning streak that had seen him defeat Fabricio Werdum, Todd Duffee and Brett Rogers. A body kick and follow-up punches brought Overeem the victory 2:26 into Round 1. He has gone 7-5 in 12 appearances since.
As Overeem prepares to face fast-rising contender Curtis Blaydes in a heavyweight showcase at UFC 225 on June 9 in Chicago, here are five things you might not know about him:
1. Fighting competitively was not on his radar originally.
Although Overeem was a sportsman -- he practiced judo, played basketball and competed in track and field -- during his formative years, his parents insisted that he and his brother, Valentijn Overeem, learn to fight in order to defend themselves. When “The Reem” was 15 years old, his brother took him to Pancration, a mixed martial arts gym operated by decorated sambo practitioner Chris Dolman. Overeem was not enticed initially but later dedicated himself to training after meeting Bas Rutten and Joop Kasteel.
2. He is a descendant of a royal blood line.
Overeem’s maternal lineage has been traced to King Willem III, once the ruler of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg. That revelation, along with the former Strikeforce champion’s success in MMA and kickboxing, led Prince Willem Alexander to invite him to dinner at the Royal Dutch House.
3. Championships decorate his mantle.
Overeem captured the Strikeforce heavyweight championship in 2007, when he struck Paul Buentello into submission before 7,249 fans at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California. Then, on Dec. 11, 2010, the Dutchman needed just 67 seconds to dispose of Peter Aerts and win the prestigious K-1 World Grand Prix. A little more than three weeks later, the Dutchman fought Todd Duffee for the Dream heavyweight title and knocked out the Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran in 19 seconds.
4. His credentials speak for themselves.
Overeem’s eight knockdowns tie him for sixth among active UFC heavyweights, according to FightMetric. Meanwhile, he ranks first in significant strike accuracy (72.8), fifth in significant strike defense (57.0), seventh in strike differential (1.75) and ninth in significant strikes landed (413) and strikes landed per minute (4.04). Overeem has delivered 38 of his 43 career victories by knockout, technical knockout or submission.
5. He has fought the best of the best.
In his run through organizations like the UFC, Strikeforce, Pride Fighting Championships and Dream, Overeem has compiled a 44-16 record and fought many of the sport’s best light heavyweights and heavyweights. The 37-year-old Jackson-Wink MMA standout has beaten six former UFC champions: Lesnar, Frank Mir, Andrei Arlovski, Junior dos Santos, Vitor Belfort (twice) and Fabricio Werdum (twice). He also owns wins over Roy Nelson, Sergei Kharitonov and Igor Vovchanchyn, along with a pair of victories over 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix winner Mark Hunt. Bouts with Chuck Liddell, Mauricio Rua, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona also line Overeem’s stellar resume.